Acrylamide & Starches

The process of frying and baking starchy foods such as potatoes and bread causes the formation of potentially harmful amounts of acrylamide – a chemical listed as a probable carcinogen, the Swedish government said last week.

The Swedish officials said they were so surprised by the information that they decided to make it public immediately, rather than wait for publication in a scientific journal.

“We found the substance at levels that, if it was just one product, we would ask that it be immediately taken off the market,” said Leif Busk, head of the Research and Development Department of the Swedish National Food Administration. “But it is in foods that we cannot live without, so there is no question of prohibiting it.”

Busk said that the chemical, acrylamide, which is used industrially in the manufacture of some plastics, is also apparently formed by the heating of starches. He said that there is no reason to think that acrylamide levels are higher in Swedish foods than in similar European or American products. Foods with especially high levels of the chemical included french fries, potato chips and crackers.

SOURCE: St Petersburg Times, 2002

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